Learning the poetic Māori language and understanding tikanga Māori is an important part of being a New Zealander, says Nick Chin.
Nick, who has Chinese and Irish ancestry, started learning te Reo Māori at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Blenheim, where he studied He Pī Ka Pao, an introductory course to the Māori language.
The 38-week programme shows tauira (students) how to pronounce Māori words, names and place names. They also learn basic sentence structures, basic mihi (introductions) and waiata.
Nick says learning te Reo Māori was important for his mahi (work) in his former role as general manager of the Rangitāne Cultural Centre, helping him to better understand what was being said during mihi and while at tangihanga and other events where reo is spoken and tikanga is observed.
“I really had not been exposed to the reo or tikanga at all when I landed the job as general manager so it was something I needed to understand,” he says.
“It had been a lifelong ambition for me to learn te reo and tikanga, the reason for that was I had always found it was a beautiful language to listen to.”
“The more I understood it (te reo Māori) the more I realised there were so many layers, it was very poetic and multi-layered.”